School of machines, making & make–believe

How can physical computing and interactivity help us to better sense and respond to the world around us? How can we express who we are and what we envision for the future by creating experimental games?

  • / 2. July - 27. July 2018

  • / four weeks, full-time in Berlin, Germany

  • / Update: Special two-week option available

  • / 10-15 participants accepted

  • / Based in LIEBIG12

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Winners and Losers is an intensive four-week program led by creative artists and educators Alice Stewart, Mike Lazer-Walker, and returning favourites Kati Hyppä and Niklas Roy.

Children grow up with a playful instinct. We learn to relate to, interact with and understand other humans through ‘games’. These games teach us notions of competition and cooperation that help acclimatize us to the adult world. Wrapped up in the idea of a game is frequently a notion of winning or losing. How does this conception trickle into our adult psyches and affect the social, economic and physical infrastructure we co-create?

Through world-building, and the creation of interactive and tactile experiences, we will create experimental games in the form of physical artifacts and installations. To do this, we will use both hardware and software to sense and respond to the environment around us as we set out to envision new societies and new modalities of play that might exist within them.

Course Description

In this program we will take a closer look at how competition and cooperation, experienced through games, plays into our lives and our conception of the world, as we set out to prototype playful experiences and create physical, embodied, and experimental games.

Social networks, service providers and even employers are increasingly ‘gamifying’ interfaces and feedback systems to encourage attention and manage labour. At the same time creative communities, from escape room designers to producers of immersive theatre, are developing new types of participatory, playful experiences rooted physical spaces.

The time is ripe not simply to push the boundaries of what a game is but also to explore the assumptions and attitudes encapsulated in our shared concept of a ‘game’.

In pursuit of these goals, this course will focus on physical computing and interactivity, exploring the creative intersection of electronics and repurposed materials. You will be introduced to programming for microcontrollers and mini-computers as well as adapting found objects and appliances in playful ways. We will learn how these approaches can work together and empower you to create interactive devices and artifacts, which can support playful interactions with your audience.

Pricing

  • Artist / Student (Full Time)*
    €1750
    Professional*
    €1950
    Two Week Program*
    €1000

  • Women and persons from LGBTQ+ and other under-represented communities in the tech field highly encouraged to apply!

    *Includes in-class materials, use of space, and professional mentorship
    Note: If you'd like us to seek out your accommodation for the month, please add €525 to the above fee.

In this course, you will be introduced to

- Tools for generating ideas, developing mechanics, building stories, completing an idea, and finding players to play*
- Tools for creating interactive artworks*
- Toolkits and platforms for making experimental games like Processing, P5.js*
- Context and inspiration: what’s happening in different experimental play communities today?*
- Wearables, sensors, wireless devices*
- Electronics and simple circuitry*
- Basic programming using Arduino microcontrollers - motors, steppers, servos, sensors, LED strips, etc.*
- Making projects portable with raspberry pi and power supplies*
- Introduction to repurposing older artworks and interfaces*
- Challenges and conversations on play from a variety of perspectives*
- An amazing network and community of like-minded creative beings and potential future collaborators
- *No previous experience necessary

Course Outline

Week 1: Introductions, concepts, world-building, narratives, play, and critical discourse, intoduction to electronics, sensors, arduino microcrontrollers.

Week 2: Tools and Techniques for creating experimental games through interactive phyiscal computing. Using old devices to create new experimental game artifacts.

Week 3: Advanced physical computing for creating experimental games for interactivity in public spaces.

Week 4: Creating collective narrative and interactive experiences and games which will be open to the public for showcase on the final day of the program.

NOTE: We're in our fourth full year (fifth summer!) and we're still excitedly exploring different learning formats to see what works best for YOU our former and future students! With this in mind, we've decided to highlight two weeks of our upcoming Winners and Losers program, offering it up as it's own special two week workshop.

This breaks down to: one intensive week of working with the brilliant Niklas Roy and his equally wonderful partner in crime Kati Hyppa and one week in which the two of them serve as mentors to help you create brilliant mechatronic game pieces for display in our final showcase!

This is an advanced workshop, we expect that you already know what a resistor is. If you're interested but don't know the basics of electronics, please consider applying for the full four-week program.

Who is this program for?

Join the diverse movement of digital artists, creative coders, game-modders, art-games communities, experience designers, immersive theatre writers, personal-games advocates, story-tellers, performance artists, street game enthusiasts, and champions of the playful as we spend a month this summer combining technology, storytelling, and experimental games.

This workshop is geared toward anyone involved in creative projects that wish to begin incorporating world-building, interactivity, electronics, and experimental games and experiences into their work or practice. The course approaches game-making from an introductory level. No prior experience is required.

Related Links

Unpacking the title Winners and Losers
More related links coming soon!

This interactive cross stitch activity introduces those who are unfamiliar with technology to the Internet. By connecting to an-on screen lesson, the object becomes a controller that advances the tutorial as each stitch is made, bridging the gap between analog and digital processes. Project by Alice Stewart.

Inspired by old model trains, Seduce the Train, a project by Kati Hyppa with Niklas Roy, is a two-person game played in turns, moving the train from one station to another. It was originally conceived at Eniarof, a pop-up fun fair concept by Antonin Fourneau.

The Forbidden Fruit Machine is an interactive installation by Kati Hyppa with Niklas Roy. It is based on a painting called "The Fall of Man" created by Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem in 1592. The machine reinterprets the historical artwork in the form of a mechatronic video game, giving the spectator of the painting the chance to control the destiny of the forbidden apple with a joystick.

Pongmechanik is an electro mechanical version of the video game pong. The game is controlled by a circuit of telephone relays. Project by Niklas Roy.

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Instructor

  • Alice Stewart/ alicestewwwart.com/

    Alice Stewart (born 1992) is a creative technologist and designer based between London and Amsterdam. As an educator, she has established Hackspace workshops at Kingston University and the Royal College of Art in London. Her self initiated projects have been featured in such publications as The Guardian, It’s Nice That and Complex Magazine.

  • Kati Hyppä katihyyppa.com

    Kati Hyyppä is a Berlin-based artist and educator from Finland who explores playful ways to connect with technology. Besides building electronic objects and installations, she also gives courses and workshops on topics ranging from low-tech robots and electromechanics to electronic textiles. Kati draws her inspiration from DIY culture, recycled electronics, popular science, traditional crafts and humorous storytelling. Creative use of openly licensed cultural content is also close to her heart. Embracing the open source movement, she publishes her documentation so that others can build upon it.

  • Niklas Roy niklasroy.com

    Niklas Roy is a self-proclaimed “inventor of useless things”. He uses art in order to explore technology. His researches result in mechanical sculptures, electric machines, interactive performances and electronic devices. 'We make money not art' once described him as one of the most facetious characters of the 'new media art' world. As part of his artistic practice, Roy also conducts workshops at festivals and art schools, often together with his partner Kati Hyyppä.

Guest Speaker

  • Lorenzo Pilia berlingamescene.com/

    Lorenzo Pilia is an experienced event producer and curator, focused on videogames and technology, as well as a public speaker and host at international events. Previously: product manager, project manager, graphic designer for art and fashion, record label owner.

    Founder of BerlinGameScene.com + Localmultiplayer.com. He is also programme manager for A MAZE. / Berlin festival and organiser of events such as Talk & Play, Join – Local Multiplayer Summit, and Civic Game Jam. Currently, Lorenzo is also a member of the Saftladen indie game collective and shared working space.

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